It is the most bizzare and unusual scenario for a party in power to raise the red flag over election rigging.
It is however normal for opposition political parties particularly in Africa where incumbents do not want to go away even after their terms. Beaten by a relatively wide margin by the main opposition, All People’s Congress (APC), the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party) has made the loudest outcry after a by-election in Tonkolili district northern Sierra Leone In the just concluded election in the northern district, APC got 5, 487 while SLPP secured 4,188 By the statistics, the results are not in SLPPs favour, and party officials are calling for a recount prior to official announcement of the winner.
The ruling party made allegations of ballot stuffing and other election malpractices against the Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone (ECSL) whose head they appointed.
Mohamed Kenewui Konneh, a man who many Sierra Leoneans say has no election management experience now heads ECSL, one of the most sensitive government agencies.
Konnneh was taken from the Financial Intelligence Unit in the Ministry of Finance to head a body whose mandate is complex and crucial to national peace and security.
As it stands, most discussions and debates within public domain have held that It is a worrying sign for a ruling party to start to protest an election result at the earlier stage. It is much more dangerous since ambassadors, high commissioners and consuls are on the ground to ensure that the right thing is done.
A veteran politician who spoke on condition of anonymity told this press that it happened with APC in 2018 when the party was in governance. The APC which held power at that time was crying foul protesting the results and even threatened a court action. This is bad for a governing party, he said officials of a ruling party should be prepared to pack their bags and luggages when ruling parties disagree with election results and go at loggerheads with the election body.None of the party officials could be reached for comments.
A reliable source within SLPP has however informed this press that the party is determined to ensure that the ballots are recounted to ascertain the true winner. Ballots have however been counted, and a true winner has been ascertained.
Calling for a fresh count of the polls demonstrates the extent to which SLPP was taken by surprise as hopes of victory has been dashed and shattered. The defeat is a shock and awe’ phenomenon for a party that has been in governance for close to five years. SLPP, no doubt, has been given a run for their money.
Although it could not be disclosed now, SLPP officials, according to sources had secretly lavished money in Tonkolili district since they hotly need the seat. The seat, by all indications, is a deciding one as the winner gets the highest seats in the House of Representatives It is no hidden secret that the ruling party has the cash and cache to bring elections to their favour. Where the cash fails the cache is used. Such scenarios have been seen in all almost all by-elections that have taken place after 2018 elections elections It happened in the Tonko Limba Chiefdom as well as other communities in which by-elections have taken place SLPP members were not permitted to employ and apply rigging tactics in Tonkolil elections SLPP’S hope of doctoring the figures at their convenience so that the seats would come to their side was high except that a twist event has proved otherwise.
Government pays little or no attention that the international community would tolerate no rigging this time. The EU ambassador had been a bit blunt when he announced that EU would ensure that no election fraud takes place anytime now, and in the future.
Ambassador Muller’s announcement might not be unconnected to government’s failure to implement recommendations of the EU Elections Observer Mission who observed and reported on the 2018 elections.Several elections management bodies were accused by international observers of dishonesty and untrustworthiness in handling the elections
Political Parties Registration Commission, Sierra Leone Police Police and the judiciary came under fire by the international community. When the allegations came out, public relations officials of the aforenamed agencies were uneasy and nervous in their defensive moves But, the most nervous and panic-stricken of all was the ECSL which indicated that the EU could not subvert their authority relying on the Sierra Leone’s sovereignty.Other diplomats have also taken similar stance.
The diplomatic community has a strong point as they hope that peace will prevail in 2023 if the electoral process is fare, transparent and credible.